How to Remove Old Water Stains

furniture refinish how to how to remove watermarks

Have you ever seen a beautiful piece of furniture, but then decided to pass on it because it had huge water stains? That almost happened to me. Luckily, the price was so good I decided to take a risk and I am so glad I did.

The piece that I found was an antique washstand and it had so many white marks on it I wasn't even really sure what they were. My usual experience is that watermarks are created from glasses that were set down without a coaster. My quick fix for this is to apply mayonnaise to the ring and let it sit overnight and the stain disappears.

But this piece was different. The stains were old and set deep into the wood. I had to use Google to even make sure that what I had were watermarks. (What did we do before Google or YouTube?)

Once I determined that they were watermarks I started to research how to get rid of them without damaging the piece more. The first method I found was using equal parts of vinegar and olive oil. I thought this sounded the most gentle so I gave it a try. I rubbed the mixture on the piece and followed with a dry cloth. Nothing. Back to research.

Using equal parts white vinegar and olive oil.

 I continued to read more tips, like toothpaste & vinegar, but I felt they only treat a surface watermark. The stains I had were much deeper.

Next, I read about using a hairdryer. If my hairdryer had not died that week I would have tried it. I read on and found a tip using an iron and towel. I decided to give it a try. I laid down the towel over the washstand. I turned on my iron to high (dry heat) and began to iron the whole piece. I made sure to keep the iron moving so I didn’t burn the wood. When I lifted the towel I was surprised to see that it worked. Areas that were larger and had more damage required more time with the iron, but eventually, all the white spots were gone.

Using a hot iron and towel.

I was shocked. This was such an easy way to fix watermarks. My fixes never seem to be this easy. Check out the end result. Isn't it amazing? Have you tried this before? Do you have a tip for removing watermarks?

Never again will I pass on a watermarked piece.


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